Aside from Victoria, B.C. trips, all previous trips to Vancouver Island have been to drive as fast as we could to a put-in and then explore by kayak. In the past, I have paddled Barkley Sound, Desolation Sound and Kyuquot Sound -- all wonderfully beautiful. Exploring the island in a car is a new adventure, and so far I'd say not as rewarding as paddling, but worth doing nevertheless.
Both Ed and I were missing the past adventures of water and remote ocean travels so from Port Hardy we head to the Pacific, destination Cape Palmerston and Raft Cove Provincial Park. Logging roads the entire route, some 40 miles, or so, made for a teeth chattering experience. Attesting to the good springs in Thistle, we still have our teeth. We also have a mountain of dust in every nook and cranny. Perhaps it's the dust holding our teeth in place???
|between dust flying and a dirty windshield the view failed to impress|
|fires slowed down much of the forest work, but it was still happening|
Along the way we stop at Holberg for an ice-cream bar at a funny little grocery store in a town of perhaps 12 homes.
The beauty of the ocean with its beaches, rocky shores and calming waves is a wonderful juxtaposition to the washboard roads that battered us mile after mile getting here. And Benton, seemingly finished with rough roads with his hang face, was more than happy to exit Thistle for some beach-running freedom.
Hiking out to Raft Cove was on a rooted, challenging trail through a beautiful but tangled forest, an hour in length. Mosquitoes, of course, chewed on us relentlessly, but breaking out on the beach made every bump, step, and bite, worth the effort and itch.
|trail of roots|
|some lovely trail building but it petered out|
not too far along
|we loved the directional arrow to the right|
To our surprise there were lots of campers, kayakers, surfboarders and paddle boarders stretched out along the length of the beach. There were also ample camps tucked away in the woods, almost hidden from sight, and outhouses amply placed, so that the beach felt quite pristine. Unlike other places we've been the folks seemed well trained in the "pack it in, pack it out" philosophy of good camping etiquette. It also turns out Raft Cove can be reached via a raft down Macjack River making it far more accessible than we ever imagined.
|some sun, lots of fog but sometimes, like here, off in|
Access to Cape Palmerston was only a five minute hike through the woods from the parking lot. The beach was gravel, not sand, much shorter than Raft Cove and with many fewer people. Except for two semi-permanent summer tents the only other people we saw were day visitors, like us. The occupants of the tents were living off the sea for the summer. The one man we spoke with was very interesting, probably in his late 60's, who had immigrated to Canada from Kenya, directly after finishing University in England. He speaks seven languages, including Chinese, as he worked with his brother-in-law in China for a spell. I always find it delightful to find all manner of people wherever we go, no matter how remote or unexpected.
Hiking down the beach a bit, we come across this wonderful emergency shelter, complete with loft sleeping accommodations, kitchen sink and drain board, outhouse up a little trail called Taj Mahole, fire pit with benches, and a sweet little deck for viewing the ocean. A guestbook recorded many visitors who had simply dropped by or stayed for a spell. We added our names.
Our trip has generated two bear sightings and a third almost-bear-sighting. The third was at Cape Palmerston where there was a dead seal on the beach and accordingly to the man we spoke with, a bear came several times a day to graze. The eagles were showing a great deal of interest too. Also the area has wolves and cougars but we heard of no reports that they were participants at this feast and we saw no signs of either.
"Always there has been an adventure just around the corner--and the world is still full of corners."
~ Roy Chapman Andrews